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Troy PattersonAt its core, despite its hambone excesses, Ellington Boulevard possesses a streetwise sentimentality that feels authentic.
—The New York Times
Centering on the fate of one apartment before, during, and after the height of New York’s real estate boom, ...
Centering on the fate of one apartment before, during, and after the height of New York’s real estate boom, Ellington Boulevard’s characters include the Tenant and His Dog; the Landlord, a recovered alcoholic and womanizer who has newly found Judaism and a wife half his age; the Broker, an out-of-work actor whose new profession finally allows him to afford theater tickets he has no time to use; the Broker’s New Boyfriend, a second-rate actor who composes a musical about the sale of 2B (“Is there no one I can lien on if this boom goes bust?”). There’s also the Buyer, a trusting young editor at a dying cultural magazine, who falls in love with the Tenant; the Buyer’s Husband, a disaffected graduate student taken to writing bawdy faux-academic papers; and the Buyer’s Husband’s Girlfriend, a children’s book writer with a tragic past.
With the humor and poignancy that made Langer’s first novel, Crossing California, a favorite book of the year among critics across the country, Ellington Boulevard is an ode to New York. It’s the story of why people come to a city they can’t afford, take jobs they despise, sacrifice love, find love, and eventually become the people they never thought they’d be—for better and for worse.
Ike and his dog, Herbie, have just returned to New York City after six months in Chicago. They find changes everywhere: on the streets, in the park, even in the pervading attitudes they encounter. Awaiting them at their apartment on Duke Ellington Boulevard are two strangers. It seems the building's new owner wants to "go condo," despite the handshake agreement that's served as Ike's lease for 20 years. This couple hopes to buy the apartment, but Ike is not giving up without a fight. This novel is about the lives of the tenant, the buyers, the building's owner, the real-estate agent, and all these characters' associated partners, employers, neighbors, and friends. The connections among the group's members radiate outward and loop back, creating weird and sometimes hilarious coincidences. Langer (Crossing California) nails his characters, from the real-estate mogul to the wannabe actor; their stories are compelling and colorful. The reader is treated to a glimpse of life in a small corner of a giant American city, which turns out to be much like life anywhere else. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ9/15/07.]
—Joanna M. Burkhardt
Excerpted from Ellington Boulevard by Adam Langer Copyright © 2008 by Adam Langer. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted December 22, 2010
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